TWO men who were caught red-handed attempting to steal gardening tools from a Barnsley Council depot have been sentenced.

Prolific thieves David Fearnley, 27, and 31-year-old accomplice Benjamin Ferry – who have clocked up more than 80 convictions between them – entered the Smithies Lane depot on May 22 last year under the cover of darkness.

However the pair, high on diazepam, were seen by security attempting to steal gardening tools and were effectively trapped at the site until police arrived.

They appeared at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday and both pleaded guilty to attempted theft, criminal damage and trespassing on the council’s property.

Fearnley, of Dodworth Road, Barnsley, told the Probation Service in an interview that he thought it was a ‘good idea’ at the time while Ferry, of Priory Court, Monk Bretton, had a ‘vague recollection’ of the incident due to being high on drugs.

Philip Howard, defending Ferry, said: “My client is no stranger to HMP Marshgate as he’s been there so often, but he’s now on an even keel. At the time of this incident he was on the street and had consumed a large quantity of drugs prior to this. They had no way of removing the items from the depot and were trapped in the compound, unable to get out.”

A statement from operations manager Michael Clay estimated the window the pair broke to gain access to the site cost £2,000 to repair, while property they moved and damaged while on the site could cost up to £5,000 to rectify. He added the disruption caused to himself and site staff also brought a ‘substantial cost’.

District Judge Joanne Hurst told Fearnley to pay £1,000 in compensation, a 12-month community order featuring 200 hours of unpaid work and a 15-day rehabilitation requirement. Ferry, already subject to a 3pm while 7am curfew from a previous offence, was given a 20-week prison term, suspended for 12 months, and told to pay the same sum of compensation and complete a 20-day rehabilitation requirement.

She said: “This caused significant disruption to the depot. It had to be closed, repair work had to be carried out on a damaged window and I believe the effects of your behaviour caused tens of thousands of pounds in costs.”